I feel like the world has finally reset itself back onto an axis I understand.
Watching this episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I found myself returning to a very familiar and long-term mindset wherein I realized something rather definitive: I DO hate Kyle Richards! My recently detached hatred for a woman who is proud of having shiny extensions and a best friend who capitalized on another friend’s murder by spreading it for Playboy – heeeeeyyyy, Faye Resnick! – is back and I now grasp this very real dichotomy: I can feel badly for the life Kyle leads as the sister of an addict in denial, but I don’t have to allow that empathy to mean that I want to mentally hold hands with a woman I’d much rather clothesline during a good game of Red Rover.
And weirdly, it was the precise act of another woman’s attempt at empathy being spurned that made me remember that I HATE KYLE! I do! And I don’t think I’m alone in having this reaction because as I shouted it from my rooftop, I thought I could hear some people begin to applaud in the frigid distance, but then again, that might have just been my imagination.
What happened? Well, it’s what always happens: Kim – the person with the most questionable sobriety this side of Lohanville – sat in tears at Kyle’s Bottoms & Tops party because her sister had dared to beyond-vaguely reference that Kim had done some secretive and shady things in the past when she lived the life of a secretive and shady addict. Now, rehashing the past when you’re out of hash is never fun, but I’m pretty certain that part of the evolution of a person who is pretending to embrace sobriety is that you must face your former demons and stop burying your secrets or pretending that you don’t have any in the first place. It’s Kim’s resistance to seeing or seeking truth that should cue everyone in to the fact that she is not living the full life of a sober person, she never has been, and until she acknowledges the truth, she never will be.
But instead of doing any sort of introspection, Kim sits in a booth in a white jumpsuit and waves around an electronic cigarette while her sister begs her to not let a piece of soiled toilet paper like Brandi come between them. In the background, Brandi and her stylist – who should be fired and encouraged to go into accounting – shook their noble heads at the uncouth display in their midst, and I’m shocked that I can still be shocked by the levels of Brandi’s manipulation and her ability to shift from furious and nasty to impersonating a human being with kindness in just one swallow of a breath – or a pill.
Brandi’s an instigating monster who is in the wrong here, and Kyle is right to be furious and hurt that her sister brought an uninvited guest with her, one who told Kyle that she wanted to “knock her teeth out” and then questioned the kind of sibling relationship these women have had for about fifty years. And I more than understood why Kyle finally gave her sister the finger and said, “Fuck you,” because there’s only so much abuse one can take from a broken addict and her enabling and violence-prone friend.
Kim finally left the bar and she continued to cry on the street and Brandi stooped down the eight feet she needed to get on eye-level with her-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world-so-fuck-you-Kyle-and-just-so-you-know-everyone-says-your-hair-is-not-even-that-shiny. Brandi hugged Kim, who kept whining about how unfairly Kyle had treated her, as though Kim had not just shown up without warning holding the hand of a woman Kyle hates, a woman who just insinuated to Kyle’s face that her husband is cheating on her. But no – in Kim’s swirling mind it is she who has been wronged, and I think it’s kind of terrible that I can’t even muster up a smidgen of pity for this asshole who fears self-awareness like rational people fear fire and spiders.
Back inside the worst party ever thrown at a martini bar is where Kyle lost me again – this time for good. Crying her eye makeup off into a cloth napkin, Kyle bawls to Lisa Vanderpump, Lisa Rinna, and Eileen about what just transpired. It’s hard to fully understand what she’s saying through her heaving sobs, but I think what it comes down to is that – initially – Kyle wants to vent more about Brandi, which I think might make sense because Brandi is a painful problem, but she’s also a less dire problem. To actually deal with the Kim Stuff will take agony and effort and maybe Kyle would like to wait until she’s not in public to fully break down.
If you haven’t noticed because you’re high on whatever Kim claims she did not ingest, I’m bending over backwards to give Kyle the benefit of the doubt, and her crushing sadness makes sense given the circumstances. But, allowances aside, I can still loathe her and I realized definitively that I do when Lisa V. tried to comfort her by saying that she knows that this is how Brandi is because she also treated Lisa terribly, and that’s when Kyle blurted out a sentence that she should have tattooed somewhere on her body or embroidered on a Chanel pillow, because I believe no collection of gathered words could possibly be more indicative of who Kyle truly is: “It’s not about you!”
This is not the first time that Kyle has fired that sentence back to one of her friends. I recall her saying it about Taylor also. What her choice of reaction says to me is that Kyle has no place in her life for another person’s empathy. She only craves sympathy because she thinks that empathy pulls focus away from a current crisis that’s all her own. After she attempts to fight with Lisa by insisting that she knew what Brandi was like all along and had tried to tell Lisa but Lisa just wouldn’t listen, Lisa does the only thing one can do when you’re an intelligent person stuck in a bad situation: she hugs her hysterical friend and cuts off the vitriol that Kyle is ready to callously and needlessly spew and calmly tells her, “Stop it, I’m not going to fight with you.”
Needing more attention, Kyle then walks over to the most bored group of gay men I have ever witnessed and stands at the end of the long table they are gathered around and apologizes en masse for what transpired on the other side of the restaurant and it was so showy a moment that I thought I saw her do jazz hands at the end of her monologue. And while Lisa R and Lisa V and Eileen sat quietly at a table and spoke about the absurdity they had witnessed, Kyle felt the glances of all of “her gays” and knew that they were admiring her sequin dress and the way her hair fell in a cascading curtain around her shoulders and all was right in Kyle’s world again.
Those living in the real world – both Lisas and Eileen – know that the actual issue here is that Kim is probably still using, and it’s Lisa R who finally just puts it out there, saying what everyone with sight has probably been thinking.
“Kim is an addict, and everyone is trying to protect her,” says the wise woman who experienced probably one of the most terrifying moments of her life during the time she was trapped in a car with Kim. “If you’re an addict, you can’t take anything. Everyone is enabling an addict. Kim’s got everyone scared, and no one wants to deal with it.”
She’s right, and this season – which had been unfolding as a little bit dull – has now veered into a place that is just very sad. It’s sad when you believe an addict has no shot in hell at rehabilitation because she won’t scrape off the crud that ensconces all of the lies that help her to continue to hide the truth. It’s sad when the addict’s long-suffering sister is an annoying narcissist. It’s sad when the addict’s new best friend is the worst influence on this planet or any other planet that has yet to be discovered. And it’s terribly sad that it’s not looking good that any of these people – who are paid handsomely for being this awful version of themselves – will ever change.
Moving on from yet another party from hell – which might be the common theme of all the parties these women attend – we join Brandi at her job where she has a podcast. Just like you and I do, Brandi shows up for work wearing denim shorts so tiny that I think I caught a glimpse of her clitoris. She’s interviewing a comedian on the broadcast, but all I can allow my brain to embrace during this scene is the very real question that there are actually people who listen to Brandi’s podcast? Who are these listeners? Do they really want to tune in to hear a woman whose steadfast belief is that “it doesn’t matter what people say about you as long as they are talking about you”? Is that motto something she whispers into her sons’ ears before they drift off to sleep at night? And do those boys only have dreams about not having a mother who has been known to flash her tampon string when she’s out at night?
I say all of that knowing that my comments cannot possibly upset Brandi because, hey – at least I’m talking about her.
Brandi’s podcast was a little scary simply because someone in a Human Resources office agreed to hire her in general, but nothing was more freaky than when both Lisas and Kyle joined Eileen for the premiere of her – well, let’s call it a movie. Turns out the Burbank Film Festival takes place in a regular theater with a red carpet that’s, as Eileen herself puts it, the size of a bathmat. As Eileen is interviewed by a reporter nobody has ever heard of, the Lisas and Kyle get hotdogs and popcorn and then go into the theater to watch the… I’m sorry! I just can’t call it a movie! See, Stranger At the Pentagon is maybe the worst thing I have ever seen in my entire life, and to give you some context for that statement, I should reveal that I have Cinemax, I willingly watched Human Centipede, and I teach Film to students who must create their own productions, and not all of them were born with the last name Scorsese, so yeah – I’ve seen my share of awful. But Eileen’s “movie” brings awful to a new level and I kind of can’t believe that she allowed even a moment of it to be shown.
Eileen needs a waaaaay better contract for next season. She must negotiate certain clauses for herself that include but are not limited to the fact that terrible experimental films she appears in will never make their way onto mainstream television screens and that she will be requiring a protective shield with which to fight whichever woman who plans to take her on in her second season. Yeah, she had some wine thrown in her face during her inauguration season and all, but so far she has gotten off pretty easy, and if both history and marathons of this franchise have taught us anything, it’s that this calm shit will not last.
Before the women arrived at the film festival, they shared a limo and discussed the enigma that is Brandi.
“Why does she behave this way?” wondered Lisa R. “What is she trying to do?”
The theories about Brandi’s vicious and unbalanced nature were bandied about. A few think she just wants attention. Kyle thinks she’s simply just an asshole. And Brandi – who does not even appear onscreen in this sequence – is being spoken about constantly and remember, it’s all good as long as she’s being talked about! She might want to keep that quote that she lives by in her mind while reporters film her arriving for potential custody hearings in the not-so-distant future.
Having been away during the most recent Brawls Involving Brandi, Yolanda invites Brandi over to her home to do yoga, and as someone who does yoga, I can only say that I sighed with a total sense of contentment just thinking about how amazing it would be to plank in such an idyllic location. Yolanda has heard the latest round of issues involving Brandi and she wants to speak to her friend about it because Yolanda is wise enough to understand that if everybody has a problem with you, it’s not that everybody else is wrong or uptight; the problem is emphatically you.
The talk does not go all that well. See, Yolanda is no longer shimmying around the issue. She tells Brandi that her proclivity to get trashed impedes her ability to behave like a decent person. She tells her that maybe Xanax isn’t a good thing for her to take. And she flat-out says that if Brandi has a problem with alcohol, Yolanda wants to be there to help her.
It’s not easy saying such things to a friend, but it’s clearly all being said with only with good intentions. Therefore, Brandi’s response is one of maturity and gratitude and…oh wait – I forgot that Brandi is just a defensive piece of shit who cannot look introspectively when a friend gently brings up an issue. Instead, Brandi denies she has a problem with alcohol by saying she gets her kids off to school in the morning. I’m pretty sure she just described the very nature of being a functional alcoholic, but I could be wrong – and if I am, I would like to be brought up to Yolanda’s hillside paradise, get served a lemon, and be told that I’m wrong as I gaze at the ocean in the distance. Brandi also said that if she did have a problem, she would admit it, telling Yolanda, “There’s no shame in my game,” an idiotic motto that Yolanda deftly ignored.
“At some point, you have to behave,” Yolanda patiently explained to her warped friend, telling her that her intense aggression towards the other women was wrong.
“Well, that’s been who I am for my entire life,” explained Brandi about how she behaves if someone lobs a single word of criticism her way. She is just doing what she has always done, which is to respond as viciously as possible and it’s this kind of bullshit justification that tells me that Brandi will never change and that she actually doesn’t want to. Who cares if she’s alienating every one of her reality television co-workers? Who cares that she’s often publicly perceived as being an alcoholic? That’s what people say about Yolanda’s daughter, and it’s not true.
Yes, Brandi told Yolanda – to deflect the issue from herself – that people are saying that Yolanda’s daughter is an alcoholic, and I want to commend Yolanda for not knocking Brandi’s skull off and tossing it from her balcony. What Yolanda did required restraint, and she continued to explain her fears about Brandi’s behavior directly to Brandi who stared off into the distance because she is a woman who has been frozen in adolescence and she will not meet your eye if you are criticizing her and since she doesn’t have a bedroom door to slam, she will retaliate by refusing to look your way.
Cutting to a real and functional mother/daughter dynamic, we join Lisa V and her daughter at a market where Pandora has bottled the alcohol that is normally just served at Lisa’s restaurant. It’s there that Lisa tells her daughter that Max has been curious about his genetic history and his heritage, a revelation that stuns Pandora and clearly makes Lisa nervous and emotional. That said, though she fears that Max could one day want to meet his birth mother, she explain that they all must be supportive of his choices because this is not about them – it’s about what Max might need.
Can you imagine Kyle ever saying such a selfless sentence? Yeah, me neither.
When Max comes over to the house later, he has with him the results of the test and he and his mother examine them together. He is Scandinavian and Irish and he finally sees what his name was at birth.
“How does it feel to see that?” asks Lisa.
“It’s weird,” Max responds.
And when Lisa later brings up the possibility of meeting his birth mother, Max is quick to say that it’s not a pressing desire for him to meet her and that he is more than happy with the life that he has been blessed with and I cannot stop wishing this family the very best because they are articulate and compassionate and witty and there appears not to be a total asshole in the mix.
And speaking of families, Eileen has the idea to get Kim and Kyle together over lunch to explain how she recently lost her sisters and that life is short and she does this hoping that the Richards sisters will reconcile. It’s a very sweet intention, but these are two co-dependent women with garages in the Valley filled with resentment and secrets and one lunch won’t rectify anything.
“As much as you have been a good sister, there are times when you hurt me,” croaks Kim, and I believe that every person in the whole world who is a sister stared at the television screen in puzzlement. Has any sibling not hurt another sibling, whether intentionally or accidentally? You have known each other your entire lives – it’s not always smooth sailing!
Kyle’s response? Could it be about herself? Why, yes it could! “You’ve hurt me too!” she wails, and it’s right about then when Eileen realizes she has made a grave mistake because these two cannot possibly move forward because they are both still stuck in the past and pretending they are not. And though I can’t stand her, it’s upsetting to watch Kyle apologize to Kim because Kyle is not the ultimate cause of this issue. Kim’s addiction and the impact it has on relationships is what has caused the tumult to spring forth in this family, and every time someone apologizes for having a normal reaction to a woman who is so abnormal, I think a sober angel in the heavens spontaneously drops dead.
The last scene of the episode is a coffee date with Lisa R. and Brandi. Lisa just appeared on Brandi’s podcast – oh, Lisa… – and both women are swathed in animal prints. Lisa tells Brandi that she had fun being interviewed and that Brandi is good at it, but she wants to know why it is that other people describe Brandi as being so mean.
“I’m not mean. I’m temperamental,” responds the mean lady. “If you hit me, I go lower – unfortunately.”
Unfortunately? What the hell does that mean? If her behavior is so unfortunate, why not try to reel it in after it’s happened – publicly – more times than anyone with fingers and an abacas can count?
But Brandi does reveal a bit of awareness during her time with Lisa. She knows that Kim is messed up and that her addiction must have been compromised. She knows that Kim telling Brandi that Brandi is her best friend is the saddest statement ever uttered by a woman with vocal cords. And she knows that, should anyone question Kim’s sobriety directly to Kim, that Kim will die.
“We are privy to someone who is in pain and suffering,” Lisa tells Brandi, and Brandi – for once – just shuts her mouth and nods at the truth while wondering what the cruelest thing she could ever say to Lisa Rinna might be and, upon figuring it out, she tucks that verbal dagger into her cleavage so she can pull it out when it’s needed.